Necessity Drives Innovation

It’s long been said that necessity drives innovation. At Green Field Solutions, it’s part of our startup story and continues to drive innovation here today. In the mid-1970s, as sugar prices rose, feed producers desperately needed a less costly sweetener for their animal feed. Founder Fred Brown Sr. recognized a rather unconventional means to meet this need—lemonade. 

Today, ever-changing markets, soaring prices and supply chain challenges are impacting how livestock are being fed. We asked animal nutrition and feed expert, Robby Hamilton, what that means for farmers, food manufacturers and consumers.  

What industry trends do you see driving innovation right now? 

Right now, farmers are dealing with high corn prices. In the first quarter of 2022, the price of corn hit a nine-year high and analysts see high corn prices continuing into 2023. That is a costly necessity that is driving innovation! 

Corn prices are compelling farmers to look for ways to stretch their corn supply. By getting more densely nutritional ingredients into animal feed, we offer farmers a more cost effective way to run their business. One of those ingredients is chocolate. Cattle like chocolate. And chocolatiers produce massive amounts of by-products and co-products. Typically, the organic waste is hauled off to a landfill at a significant cost. We solve that problem for them, too, by repurposing their food waste into feed ingredients.  

Case study: Upcycling Chocolate

Tell us about your career feeding animals.

I grew up on a dairy farm in eastern Tennessee. And I grew up feeding hard-shelled candy chocolates to our beef cows. At the time, I was trying to make the animal fat so we could eat it. I never thought that 20 years later that supplementing livestock diets with similar products was going to be a major portion of what I do. Throughout my career I’ve been feeding animals, now I feed animals with a purpose.

Never in my wildest dreams did I think I’d be in St. Louis working for one of the largest companies in this sector. It’s interesting how little steps along the way and relationships have led me to where I am. Even some of the customers we have now. And it all started with a catfish….but that’s a story for another day.

Talk about the result of food perfection. 

Our society demands perfection in our food supply. To achieve that state of perfection, food manufacturers must discard much of it, which has an immense environmental impact. What GFS does is bridge the gap between the food industry’s enormous amounts of by-product leftover and the need for sustainable and affordable livestock feed.

We talk a lot about our ability to take by-product nutritional information and process it into an animal diet, but that’s only part of the equation. GFS understands what needs to be done to process different types of by-product. And we understand feed markets, how different commodities compare and compliment each other, and when the best time to buy them. I’m just a part of this equation. It’s our team’s collective knowledge, skills and network help our clients and partners be better stewards of the environment.